When people think about networking and how it can help them they think: I have to have the right people in my network. Your own network is called your first degree network (on LinkedIn you also see the number 1 next to the name of a person to whom you are connected yourself).
Thinking that the power of the network is in the first degree is one of the largest barriers for people to really achieve their goals.
The real power of the network is not in who you know, but in who they know. The real power of the network is in the second degree. There are many more opportunities there.
Of course you need the first degree to reach the second degree, so the first degree is still very important.
Understanding that the real power of networking is in the second degree also helps to deal with your network and the people you meet in a different way. You don’t have to do business with them. You don’t have to “sell” yourself to them.
If you understand that the power of the network is in the second degree you can have other kinds of conversations. You can take the time to get to know each other a little bit better and see how you can help each other towards each other’s network.
How many people do you meet that you think: “No matter how nice this person is, I will never do business with him or her because we are in totally different industries, geographic areas or functions. Let’s end this conversation as fast as I can so I can start talking to someone who is really interesting to me.”
But you never know who they know. If you make time to have a longer conversation, ask them what or who they are looking for and share what your goals are, you might be very surprised.
Also by getting the “direct or hard selling” part out of the way (and this doesn’t only apply to sales people but also to people looking for a new job or a new employee) with the person you are talking to, networking becomes more relaxed and more fun.
One of the biggest advantages of LinkedIn is that it helps to leverage this power of the second degree. What makes LinkedIn the fantastic tool it is, is that it shows you the network of your network. LinkedIn shows the second and third degree contacts together with ALL the connections you have with them.
Understanding this concept and being able to apply it, will be the single most important success factor for you on LinkedIn.
To your success !